Writing for the Web Requires Balance

A gymnast executing a backflip on a balance beam

A gymnast needs excellent balance. So does writing for the web.

Exceptional balance is often ignored. It’s something you develop an eye for. It takes more than luck — just like developing gymnastic talent.


The 10 that almost wasn’t.

Her name means “Hope,” but it should mean luck.

Born with an un-treatable birth defect, the doctors thought she would die. Instead, the defect miraculously disappeared days after she was born.

As an infant, a ceiling collapsed around her bassinet. She emerged unharmed.

And as a toddler, she fell off a 15-foot bridge into a canal. She emerged crying from the canal with only a few bruises.


Her name? Nadia.

In Kindergarten, Nadia loved to bound across the playground. 

Gymnastics coach Bela Karoly saw her. He invited her to join his experimental gymnastics school.

She fell in love with the bars, beams, and mats. They provided endless playtime. Playing took her to competing.

After 8 years of “playing” on the uneven bars, Nadia Comaneci competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics – shown in the picture above. 

She became the first gymnast to receive a perfect score of 10!

Nadia’s escape from death may be due to luck, but her success in gymnastics wasn’t. She made Olympic History because of hard work and a great sense of balance.  

Balance is a little-overlooked element in many disciplines – especially when creating marketing messages.


Achieve balance through “white space.”

White space is the unused space on a page. The term came from the book printing industry.

White space means negative space or the blank parts of the page. The background color can be yellow, blue, or white, and it’s still called white space.

As you read this article, notice the space between sections and paragraphs. Those blank spaces are essential.  White space seems like it’s wasted, but it’s not.


White space is indispensable for three reasons:

  1. It increases comprehension of your message.
  2. It’s visually stimulating.
  3. It demonstrates your authority.


Let’s start with how white space increases understanding:

When you’re reading, your eyes go faster than your brain.

White space provides pauses so your brain can catch up. These pauses help you understand the words. 

Comprehending words takes more time than understanding an image.

White space gives your brain that needed time. White space helps you organize information.

A picture is worth 1,000 words because a picture is a whole idea.  Even with images, however, there is a need for a balance – a balance between something and nothing.


How can nothing be visually stimulating?

Your brain wants to learn. Learning excites it.

Your brain gets frustrated if things come at it too fast. It feels dumb and shuts down.

White space gives your brain a breather and helps it understand the idea. It makes your brain feel smart. Feeling intelligent is fireworks for your brain.

It seems strange – and counterintuitive – but white space is visually stimulating.

Space filled with nothing excites your imagination. It lets your brain be free to imagine something out of nothing.


When you make your readers feel smart, they see you as an authority.

As an authority, you want to tell your reader everything you know. But if you shove too much information at them, they can’t understand it. They feel dumb. Their thinking shuts down.

They tune you out. Because readers don’t understand your message, they don’t see you as knowledgeable.

What can you do?


Simple ideas are easy to understand. You communicate simple ideas with plain words and lots of white space.

When your reader grasps your message, they see you as knowledgeable.


But white space seems like such a waste!

When book printing first began, white space was a waste. Printing is expensive.

Also, people didn’t have as many distractions. Now there are so many things clamoring for attention – it’s overwhelming.

Ten years ago, if your reader found a sentence she didn’t understand, she would stop and reread it.

Today if your reader is confused, she will click off the page.


White space helps your readers by:

  • Slowing down their reading. 
  • Giving their brains space to breathe and imagine.
  • Increasing comprehension of your message. 

Balance is a little-overlooked element in many fields. Whether it’s gymnastics or marketing message design, the correct balance makes you stand out.

One place marketers often forget about white space is with white papers.

Discover more about white papers.